Causes of Memory Loss and Alzheimer’s Disease

Unsure if your relative is in need of Alzheimer’s care? As we age, many of us have an understandable fear of memory loss and whether it is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease – a progressive and fatal brain disease.

Memory loss is commonly thought of as a normal part of aging. However, serious memory loss may be a sign of another medical problem. These can include:

  • Infection
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Issues with the thyroid gland
  • An emotional problem
  • Stroke
  • Dementia.

Dementia is a general term for memory loss.  Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia.

Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

The Alzheimer’s Association provides this list of 10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s contrasted with typical changes related to age.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life – especially forgetting recently learned information. A typical age-related change: Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems such as losing track of monthly bills.  A typical age-related change: Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work or leisure such as forgetting the rules to a game. A typical age-related change: Occasionally needing help to use settings on a microwave or to record a television program.
  4. Confusing with time or place – sometimes forgetting how they got to a certain location. A typical age-related change: Getting confused about the day or date but figuring it out later.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships including judging distance. A typical age-related change: Vision changes related to cataracts.
  6. Problems with words in speaking or writing or calling things by the wrong name. A typical age-related change: Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps, which can get frequent over time. A typical age-related change: Misplacing things now and then like glasses or the remote control.
  8. Decreased poor judgment such as giving excessive money away to telemarketers or paying less attention to personal hygiene. A typical age-related change: Making a bad decision once in a while.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. A typical age-related change: Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
  10. Changes in mood and personality. A typical age-related change: Developing specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when routine is disrupted.

People with memory loss should receive a thorough examination from a physician including a careful review of the person’s clinical history, a physical and neurological evaluation, a review of medications and cognitive testing.

An appropriate treatment plan can be made once a diagnosis is determined.


Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Gene Haffner of Banner Health . He may be reached at 970-350-6133 or for more information visit Banner Health’s website at